According to new recommendations from the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), overweight patients with risk factors for heart disease should be sent by their doctors for "intensive behavioral counseling" about diet or exercise. That includes overweight people with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, ‘metabolic syndrome’ or prediabetes.
A review of data commissioned for the government-backed USPSTF found that intensive behavioral counseling can help lower these patients’ risk for heart problems.
The recommendations are targeted to health care providers more than to patients.
The Task Force review found, intensive behavioral counseling - involving multiple sessions with experts in nutrition and exercise over an extended period, for several months to a year - can help people lose weight and bring down their blood pressure and cholesterol.
The researchers reviewed 74 studies of various lifestyle interventions and found that with intensive counseling, many health markers were improved one and two years later, and the risk of diabetes decreased.
There is a great deal of data on people with heart attack and stroke risk factors and most of those studies focused on a combination of diet and exercise counseling, programs that have the most evidence behind them at this point.
The best counseling interventions are not only frequent but conducted by trained dietitians, nutritionists, health educators and physiologists, the report stated.
One-on-one counseling gives experts time to assess the barriers to healthy diet and exercise for each person and help them overcome them.
Source: Annals of Internal Medicine, August 25, 2014.
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